A building speaks, Arturo Campos listens

Concept for the Paseo de Montejo.

 

camposmain2Yucatecan architect José Arturo Campos Rodríguez found inspiration in Spain before returning to Mérida, PhD. in hand, to establish his reputation and collect numerous awards for his work.

Campos earned a PhD. degree in Architecture, graduating cum laude from the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Barcelona in 1999. An expert on the work of famed Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí, Campos obtained Honorable Mention for his thesis “The Voices of Gaudí” and has published a book on the acoustic qualities of Gaudí’s work. At the beginning of his architectural career, from 1999 to 2002, Dr. Campos was among those collaborating in the construction of Gaudí’s unfinished fantastical masterwork, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, or Sagrada Família.

“I had under my responsibility the construction of several exhibition rooms, audio-visual room and halls of catechesis in the museum of the temple, as well as the construction and the supervision of the areas dedicated to the choirs of the church, the Cloister of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Cloister of the Facade of the Passion,” Campos says. “My most important contribution to this building was the design and construction of the seven big structures for the stained glass windows in the apse of the church. These big structures — each one has the size of a three-story building — were finished in 2012.

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Yucatecan architect Arturo Campos started his career at the fantastical Gaudí cathedral in Barcelona. Photo: Wikipedia
Yucatecan architect Arturo Campos started his career at the fantastical Gaudí cathedral in Barcelona. Photo: Wikipedia

But Campos’ portfolio today speaks of today’s Yucatán.

“In Mérida most of my designs and constructions are modern but I have much work and many renovations in downtown Mérida, too,” says Campos. “I like both styles, modern and classic.”

In a city where hacienda style does battle with mid-century modern, we wondered which style is trending?

“More of my Mexican clients ask me for modern style and most of my foreign clients are looking for a mixed style, maybe classic, but with some modern aspects.”

Campos’ education and experience grounds him as he manages contrasting projects.

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“Because of my studies in preservation and renovation of sites, and my studies in modern and bioclimatic architecture — designs that work with the natural environmental conditions for thermal comfort inside — it is easy for me to design both styles.” Campos asserts. “Always the client is the most important in my architecture.”

“I have many examples of modern architecture like my Shadow of an Almendro Tree, Casa Cambiante, Casa Temozón. All of them have won prizes like the first place Cemex Building Award in 2012 or the International Property Award in 2014 in London,” said Campos, who distinguished himself in the field of urban design when a concept for the of Paseo de Montejo landed in first Pplace for Landscape Design in the Biennale of Costa Rica in 2014.

Echos of Campos’ acoustic work in Spain are found in his many auditorium and music hall designs, including the cinema space at the Museo del Mundo Maya, “a very modern space.”

He then ticks off the names of homes and hotels he has designed. The names are familiar to anyone who pays attention to real estate in Yucatán. Hacienda Chaká, Hacienda San Antonio Xnuc, Hotel Luz en Yucatán and Casa de La Luz, Casa de los Frisos 45 and Casa 66, are examples of his classical or mixed-style designs. Hotel Luz en Yucatan won the Traveler’s Choice Award from 2008 to 2013, and Casa de los Frisos 45 was made Architectural Digest’s top three list of great renovations in 2008.

“As you can see, my professional activity is varied, and my architecture is varied too,” says Campos. “I have developed several projects since 1999 as director of Arturo Campos Architects. Many of my projects have won prizes, and I’m very proud of it.”

Working with expats isn’t what it used to be. They’ve grown more sophisticated.

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Habitante Magazine called Arturo Campos an outstanding architect in a recent profile.
Habitante Magazine called Arturo Campos an outstanding architect in a recent profile.

“A few years ago, expats came to Mérida and they didn’t know very much about construction in Yucatan,” says Campos. “Now it is different. Expats know about properties, houses, workers, materials and construction methods.”

Expats are more drawn to the Centro or the beach than are local clients, he notes. A client from Mexico is more likely inclined to neighborhoods in the city’s north, less interested than foreigners in learning about culture, going to the public market or being near the Paseo de Montejo, because they are more likely busy raising families. Access to schools, malls and hospitals is a bigger priority for them, he says.

“As clients, most foreign expats are very kindly and it is very easy work for them,” Campos says. “They know very well what they want in their homes.”

Finding inspiration

When no one is around, the expert in acoustics likes to fill his office with music to spur his creativity. We asked Campos what inspires his work.

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“I have been inspired by four architects in my life. The first architect I met was my father, Rogelio Campos. Thanks to him I’m an architect. He is my idol, my inspiration. … When I was a child my father brought me to his construction sites and I learned architecture by his hand.

Arturo Campos is equally at home with modern or traditional designs.
Arturo Campos is equally at home with modern or traditional designs.

“The second architect was Antoni Gaudí, even he was an architect of the 19th century, his architecture is very modern, organic, and I learn much about architecture when I worked at the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

“The third architect is Jordi Bonet, and former director of architecture for the Sagrada Família. He taught me many things about architecture, too.

“And the last one is my teacher and friend Frances Daumal, who taught me how to listen to architecture.”

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Architecture isn’t just what you see, explains Campos. Architecture, like life, is also made up of sounds.

“I’m an acoustic architect and the sound of water, sounds of materials like wood, concrete, glass, are very important to me. Each material has its own sound. I learned to listen to sounds in my classes with Daumal.”

Back to the here and now, Mérida has had the attention of foreign buyers for many years now, but the buyers’ market has not ended.

“Even now it is easy to find an inexpensive property in Mérida’s Centro, the north, or at the beach.” says Campos. “Be sure to work with the best workers, ask about materials, building systems, architects, and be patient to take the best options. Remember that a home is one of the most important things in our life.”

See more about Arturo Campos at his website, www.arturocampos.com.mx

Read more profiles of Yucatán’s most interesting people.

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